Tanks are one of the least popular classes in League of Legends. This, however, does not mean they are a useless or weak class. Tank gameplay revolves around assisting your teammates and hindering the enemy champions from performing their job.
Tanks play a protective role in teamfights for their teammates by peeling for their carry using the CC available in their kit. They must also act as leaders and find an engage on an enemy champion when suitable. Tanks position in the frontline and soak up damage just so their teammates can play safely.
Tanks have multiple responsibilities to perform in a teamfight. We will take a look at the position they must take and what they can do to help their teammates. Tanks are the only thing standing between a threatening enemy team and a vulnerable backline.
Looking For Engage
If you are playing the tank on your team, the responsibility of finding an engage lies with you. However, it is not a simple task. Recognizing when and where you should engage matters much more than how you engage. You don’t want to engage when your teammates are not close by to follow up on it. Similarly, you don’t want to engage when your team is trying to avoid a teamfight and would rather wait for a better opportunity around objectives.
Engaging the enemy as a Tank relies on the options available in your kit. A simple, yet great, example of Tank engage is Malphite Ultimate. Malphite is a champion that heavily relies on his ultimate. It is his only form of engage therefore he has to think hard about when to use it. As a Malphite, as soon as you and your team are ready for an engage, you should feel free to flash R the enemy squishy champions.
You can engage a single champion or a group of champions at once depending on the champion you are playing. It is okay to use your engage tool on one important champion instead of waiting for a complete 3-5 man engage, as long as you are confident your team can finish off that single target. This gives you a numbers advantage and makes teamfighting much easier from there on.
Peel For Your Backline
Just as any tank champion may CC a target to start a fight, they can also do so to prevent them from performing their job. This comes in handy when your backline is getting targeted by the enemy. As a tank, it is your job to make sure your carries can do their job properly. This is done by peeling for them whenever you notice an enemy collapsing on them.
Peeling is a harder job to do than engaging because of the various factors that play into it. However, it is just as important, if not more. We will take the example of Malphite again. The enemy might engage onto your backline if you are behind and they are looking to push their advantage. In such a scenario, it is better for you to hold your ultimate and use it to peel your backline.
If an assassin or a diver jumps onto your carry, you can use your ultimate on them. This buys your carry much-needed time to escape and maintain their distance, and then you and your team can proceed to burst down the diver. This way you are still catching a target with your ultimate without actually looking for an engage.
No one is suited better in the frontline than Tanks. Tanky champions tend to have damage reduction or sustain which allows them to soak damage and still stand long enough to see through the teamfight with their kit.
This positioning puts them at a higher risk than others because they can get caught by an engage from the enemy team or simply picked off using abilities/ultimates that are meant to isolate targets. So tank players must always be wary of their positioning and still be close to the rest of their team while staying in front of them.
This allows your team to help you if the enemy tries to dump resources into killing you. As a tank, you don’t mind taking the brunt of the damage as long as the rest of your team remains unscathed.
Tanks don’t have a set target priority, unlike assassins. As far as dealing damage is concerned, tanks should always be dealing damage to whoever they can in a teamfight. While it may be unlikely, you would still prioritize hitting an enemy squishy champion if you can get in range. Tanks can build items that allow them to stick to their targets such as Frostfire Gauntlet and Randuins Omen. This makes them exceptionally well at dealing with ADCs.
Hitting someone is better than hitting no one. Whether you are the one engaging onto the enemy team or peeling for your teammates, remember that you should always be trying to deal damage to a target. Some tanks have %Health damage built into their kits.
A good example would be Ornn. Ornn can deal 16% of his target’s maximum health as magic damage using his W. His W applies brittle which allows him to interrupt channels and generally slow down the enemy using a short CC. In the long run, this damage stacks up and ends up proving much more significant than imagined and can be the deciding factor between an enemy tank dying or killing your backline.
Crowd Control Priority
Tanks, however, should not throw out their CC abilities without thinking. These are important tools as we mentioned before, that can be used to engage, counter engage, or peel for their teammates. This means that important sources of CC, especially higher cooldown abilities, should be saved for the ideal target.
If you are playing Sion, using a fully charged Q on the enemy Leona will achieve little to no good unless you are trying to peel. Saving it for an actual threat like Master Yi can prove to be much more fruitful because it will allow you to CC a target that might single-handedly kill your entire backline.
Tanks usually do not require aggressive summoner spells such as Ignite or Ghost because they are mainly playing to assist their team. This allows them to take Teleport or Exhaust which are very good teamfighting Summoner Spells. If you are a tank playing Teleport, you will get to do a lot more outside of teamfights and still be part of the teamfight when it breaks out.
Tanks that have Teleport available can go to a side lane and farm up for their items. They are tanky champions so usually, they are not at risk of being killed. As soon as they see a teamfight breakout, they can channel their teleport to a suitable spot to join the fight with a slight delay.
Teleport must be channeled near the site of the teamfight, not too far away from your teammates. Teleporting too safely is better than teleporting too aggressively. This is because your team might not be able to help you if you appear behind the enemy team since you are supposed to be the frontline. Teleport may also catch the enemy team off guard and make them panic, giving you an edge over them.
Do not be afraid of taking damage. Tank champions are completely opposite to ADCs and Mages in this regard since they are more than happy to get hit by skillshots and damage abilities. As a tank, your priority is to keep your teammates alive. If you can block an important skillshot directed at your carry, you can turn the teamfight around.
Of course, just because tanks build resistance and health, does not mean they are invincible. Try to be a nuisance for the enemy team and CC their carry champions as much as possible to prevent them from doing their job. This will take a toll on your health bar. Eventually, you will have to take your leave. Hopefully, you would have secured enough of a lead to win your team the fight.
Tanks carry a large responsibility as their team will struggle to perform in their absence. A tank must make way for their carry to deal damage to the enemy team all the while protecting their allies from enemy threats. Therefore, tanks should be played selflessly while throwing your body at the enemy champions to sacrifice your resources for your team.